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Historic Alton overlook collapses months after heavy rain

A fix for the collapse is expected to be costly. Public Works Director Robert Barnhart said the fix could be close to $1 million.

ALTON, Ill. — Slabs of a sidewalk and large pieces of roadway fell hundreds of feet Sunday from a historic overlook near Alton's Riverview Park.

"I know they had it blocked off so cars wouldn't go on it, but I walked on it," neighbor Cheryl Wooden said, admitting "maybe that wasn't a smart thing to do."

Luckily nobody was hurt — and no buildings were damaged — when the debris landed just yards from a 40,000-square-foot plant at Abbott Machine Company. 

Crews have now pulled the debris away from the bluff, creating a trench to collect whatever comes down next. 

"The problem is, with all that soil destabilized, for us to restore it the way it was it is going to be challenging to say the least, maybe impossible," Public Works Director Robert Barnhart said.

Barnhart said heavy rains last spring and historic flooding over the summer eroded the ground. Some Alton residents questioned online whether tree removal also played a part hastening erosion. Barnhart said he can't rule it out, but he doesn't know how much it contributed to the problem either.

Barnhart said crews have monitored the ground levels while the city takes bids on construction, but their process moved more slowly than Mother Nature.

"We were looking at $1 million [for repairs]," Barnhart said. "We got some prices that brought it down a little bit cheaper, but — in the end — it's going to be costly. We knew that going in."

Barnhart said the city's also petitioned FEMA to cover some of the costs as a part of the summer flooding disaster declaration.

The path was scheduled to be discussed at a city meeting Tuesday before the collapse. Leaders are expected to vote on a solution at the meeting.

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